January 31, 2012

life in financial markets: mauritius-based investors in listed indian stocks

A few days back I wrote an analytical story on large equity stakeholdings by Mauritius-based investors in listed Indian companies on the National Stock Exchange of India. 

Here is what I wrote:

Mauritian investors' influence goes up a tad
Public shareholders with a Mauritius tag in their names held Rs 70,000 crore worth of large stakes in listed companies

The Mauritian influence in the listed Indian equity market improved marginally in the December 2011 quarter as compared with the previous quarter. This was bought out in a FC Research Bureau analysis of shareholding of more than one per cent in listed companies by public shareholders which had the word 'Mauritius' in their names. These shareholders included foreign institutional investors (FIIs) (including FII sub-accounts), foreign venture capital investors and foreign investors investing through the foreign direct investment (FDI) route.
The collective holdings at the end of December 2011 of 86 such public shareholders in 255 companies was, at January 25 prices, worth Rs 70,114 crore, which was four per cent more than 67,542 crore worth of September 2011-end holdings of 83 similar Mauritius-based public shareholders valued at January 25 prices.
The largest Mauritian investor in Indian equities at December 2011-end holdings was Citigroup's two investment subsidiaries' collective holding in just one company, Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC). Citigroup Strategic Holdings Mauritius, with a 8.78 per cent stake, and Citigroup Holding Mauritius, with a 1.07 per cent stake, together held 9.85 per cent stake in HDFC which, at its January 25 closing price, was worth 10,302 crore. This duo was also the largest Mauritian-based investor based on their September 2011-end holding which was the same, at 9.85 per cent stake.
The second-largest Mauritian investor was Aberdeen Asset Managers whose two FII sub-accounts, Aberdeen Global Indian Equity Fund Mauritius and Aberdeen International India Opportunities Fund (Mauritius) collectively, increased their investment exposure to Rs 9,257 crore based on December-end holdings across 14 companies from Rs 8,069 crore based on September-end holdings across 12 companies mainly due to new greater-than-one-per-cent holdings in Mphasis and Pirmal Healthcare. Valiant Mauritius Partners, another Mauritian investor, increased its holdings to 14 companies valuing Rs 1,146 crore from holdings in 11 companies valuing Rs 819 crore.
The ones who reduced their exposure included Morgan Stanley Mauritius Company whose greater-than-one-per-cent holdings fell to Rs 1,275 crore across 28 companies. Deutsche Securities Mauritius' large holdings also fell to Rs 1,333 crore across 23 companies from Rs 1,797 crore across 25 companies.
The Mauritian investors which had diversified holdings in 10 or more stocks as of the end of December included Citigroup Global Markets Mauritius (10th largest Mauritian investor in terms of holding value) with large stakes in 41 listed companies, Copthall Mauritius Investment (6th largest) with 28 companies' stakes, FID Funds (Mauritius) (8th largest) with 26 companies' stakes and HSBC Global Investment Funds Mauritius (3rd largest) with 23 companies' stakes.
TMI Mauritius and P5 Asia Investments Mauritius were the 5th, and 7th, largest Mauritian-investors respectively but both of them had a large stake in only company, Idea Cellular.
The value of the large holdings by 10 largest Mauritian investors accounted for 73 per cent of that of by all Mauritian investors. Immediately following the top 10 Mauritian investors were Deutsche Securities Mauritius, Morgan Stanley Mauritius and Valiant Mauritius Partners.

Large stakeholdings by Mauritian investors
These 10 investors made up for 74 per cent of all Mauritian investors
Value of holdings (Rs cr) No. of cos. invested in
Citigroup Holding Mauritius * 10302 1
Aberdeen Asset Managers** 9257 14
HSBC Global Investment Funds Mauritius *** 8049 23
HSBC Bank Mauritius**** 6334 18
TMI Mauritius 4371 1
Copthall Mauritius Investment 3684 28
P5 Asia Investments Mauritius 3104 1
FID Funds (Mauritius)***** 2242 26
CLSA (Mauritius) 2112 22
Citigroup Global Markets Mauritius 1949 41
Holdings are as of 31 Dec 2011 but valued at Jan 25 prices
* Citigroup Strategic Holdings Mauritius & Citigroup Holding Mauritius
** through FII sub-accounts Aberdeen Global Indian Equity Fund Mauritius & Aberdeen International India Opportunities Fund (Mauritius) for which it is main FII
*** FII sub-account to main FII HSBC Global Investment Funds
**** through various FII sub-accounts for which it acts as main FII
***** FII sub-account to main FII FIL Investment Management (Hong Kong) of the Fidelity Group
Source: Capitaline Neo. Analysed by FC Research Bureau

January 23, 2012

life in general: the rushdie-jaipur literary festival saga

Muslim extremists are no different from Hindu extremists or extremists of any other religion when it comes to resorting to violence to curtail any harshly critical review of religious texts and religious systems. They got Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses banned way back in 1989 and continue to feel insecured till date.

The Rushdie saga going on current at the Jaipur Literary Festival is an indicator of that ugly insecurity.

Below is a nice insight on the matter that I came across on the web today.


Jaipur Literature Festival – Requiescat in Pacem

JANUARY 21, 2012
by Shuddhabrata Sengupta
Did you know that the law had four corners? I didn’t, but whosoever writes press releases for the Jaipur Literature Festival does. Did you know that the ‘ideas can be exchanged and literature loved‘, ‘strictly‘ within these four corners? I didn’t, but whosoever writes press releases for the Jaipur Literature Festival does.
This press release is being issued on behalf of the organizers of the Jaipur Literature Festival. It has come to their attention that certain delegates acted in a manner during their sessions today which were without the prior knowledge or consent of the organizers. Any views expressed or actions taken by these delegates are in no manner endorsed by the Jaipur Literature Festival. Any comments made by the delegates reflect their personal, individual views and are not endorsed by the Festival or attributable to its organizers or anyone acting on their behalf. The Festival organizers are fully committed to ensuring compliance of all prevailing laws and will continue to offer their fullest cooperation to prevent any legal violation of any kind. Any action by any delegate or anyone else involved with the Festival that in any manner falls foul of the law will not be tolerated and all necessary, consequential action will be taken. Our endeavor has always been to provide a platform to foster an exchange of ideas and the love of literature, strictly within the four corners of the law. We remain committed to this objective. [via FirstPost]
Someone who ‘loves literature strictly within the four corners’ of any enclosure seems to me to be like a diligent user of a prison library. I am sure there are many good people in Tihar Prison whose reading habits fit that description, due to the circumstances of their confinement. I did not know that one could describe the proceedings of a literary festival in quite those terms. One learns new things each day.
And by the way, what exactly, in this case, does the literary and legal genius who wrote this press release mean by the expression – ‘falling foul of the law’? The book-that-dare-not-take-it’s-nameis ‘banned’ (if that is an expression that can at all be used) by being prohibited from being imported into India under Section 11 of the Customs Act. I am not aware that the provisions of this act have been violated during the proceedings of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
The Ministry of Finance of the Government of India (under whose aegis the Department of Customs and Excise does its job) which had issued the ‘ban’ order on the 5th of October, 1989 had said in a note released to the press that the ‘ban did not detract from the literary and artistic merit’ of the book that it was banning. Reportedly, in its elaboration of why it took this decision, the Finance Ministry indicated that the book “…had been banned as  a pre-emptive measure. Certain passages had been identified as susceptible to distortion and misuse, presumably by unscrupulous religious fanatics and such. The banning order had been issued to prevent this misuse.” Apparently, the book was not deemed blasphemous or objectionable as such, but was being placed in the absurd situation of being banned, as pointed out by its author, “for its own good! “- in order to protect it from being misused by others. After all, how can a book of high artistic and literary merit be misused by its author, or indeed, by anyone authorized by the author.
As of now, nothing, in my humble (and perhaps ill-informed opinion) has happened at the Jaipur Literature Festival that can be construed as illegal or out of the ordinary. The ban order itself, as we have seen, does not suggest that the book is anything but of high artistic and literary merit. Some people, who are writers, have read aloud from this work of high artistic and literary merit. Isn’t that what writers and literature lovers are supposed to be doing, especially at a literature festival – writing, reading, talking books, good books ?
The peace has not been breached. The contents of the book have not been ‘misused’ – they might have been if rabble rousers had read it and told people to go and run amok.  Or, if they had read from it contrary to the intentions of the author, in order to distort his meaning and purposes. If people who have not read the book, and say they will not read the book, now run amok, those who have read the book cannot be held responsible. If the peace is breached subsequent to this, the responsibility for its ‘breaching’ ought to be seen to lie in the hands of anyone who makes any irresponsible and provocative call to violence or the infringement of the liberty of others. For a condition laden with violence or bereft of liberty cannot be called peaceful. As far as I know, none of the writers who read out excerpts from the literary work in question said anything of that nature. I know them all, they are all, all, peaceable men.
More importantly, no item banned under Section 11 of the Customs Act has been imported. The individuals who read from the literary work that everyone is so exercised about did not have the book in question in their hands. They had not ‘imported’ a banned item into the country. They read from pieces of paper.
Furthermore, fortunately, as of now, as far as my understanding goes, there is no legal provision under Indian law that can criminalize the  mere ‘reading’ of the contents of a book that the law prohibits the import of.  If you have the book in your possession it may be ‘seized’. But nothing prohibits reading. How can it? One could for instance, read and re-read a passage from a book proscribed by the Customs in one’s memory. Can one not share a memory of one’s experience of literature with friends ? Can one not aid one’s memory by glancing at a piece of paper while sharing a memory ?
The prohibition of ‘reading’ would amount to accepting that there are actions that our legal system would recognize as ‘thought crimes’. We have not come to that pass, as yet. I hope we never will.
No untoward incident has occurred. The situation is tense but under control (isn’t it always, everywhere, anyway, in this wonderful land). The Jaipur Literature Festival can rest in peace. Requiescat in Pacem.

  1. January 21, 2012 2:50 AM
    By issuing such pree statement (quoted above in the article), the organizers have shown only one part of their true character. The reality is much more tragic. For that, we must look at the list of their sponsore.
    This year too as in 2011, the organizers and participants of Jaipur Literature Festival have revealed their deplorable callousness towards collapsing ecosystem, rampant human rights violations and corrupt practices of many of its sponsors.
    To read more, click the link below:
  2. Tejaswi PERMALINK
    January 21, 2012 3:49 AM
    We should probably start reading Vamadeva Shastri-Frawley or NS Rajaram to have a clearer idea of the literature that requires “four corners of the law”, the locale excellently described above. While I did find the “Book-that-dare-not-take-its-name” a wee bit overly blasphemous, it is fiction and even if it did impinge on the factual, I see no reason to ban a book. As an atheist I can only gleefully read whatever is written about these characters, however it still makes me feel nauseated when a Prophet cartoon is published in the name of free speech while we know that it is not that alone.
    Here is the funny part, though. A Shia Ayatollah calls for the head of the blasphemous genius and the Sunni public here wants to give the almost-dead fatwa a new life.
    But I am not surprised either – in this era of intolerance. A Polanki with his Sitayana or a Rushdie with his verses will either leave for good or join hands with the very goons who threaten to bash up the blasphemer.
    Nice one, sir.
    • January 21, 2012 11:38 AM
      Dear Tejasvi, I have read Frawley and N.S. Rajarm, and though I find them disgusting, I strongly feel that no text or literary work need be confined with the four corners of the law. The only correct way to deal with literature or writing one finds objectionable is through trenchant, passionate, diligent, intelligent criticism and creativity. I find the cartoons you mention equally nauseating, but there too, i think that the only way to deal with such material is through criticism and acts of creativity and all the resources of ethics, analysis and the imagination.
      I saey this, because I know fully well that thogh what I write may seem reasonable to you, may be nauseating to others, And because I do not want to empower their nausea, I do not wish to boster mine either with the strong arm of the law. We can all throw up, if we like, in our respective corners, and subsequently avoid, if we so desire, exposure to stuff that we find difficult to digest. But to reach for the nanny of the law each time one feels a little out of sorts seems childish, and churlish to me.
      If a text makes a direct call for murder or injury to another person’s body, it is another matter. There are sensible legal provisions that can be invoked in the event of an expression being found suspect of abetment to murder or actual violence.
      The only instance in which I personally would countenance an ethically justifiable act of censorship would involve photographic representations of minors or animals being made to enact sexual situations for pornographic purposes. I emphasize, photographic, minors, severely mentally disabled individuals, captives and animals, because photographic entails the depiction of an actual, not imagined occurrence. Minors, captives, severely mentally disabled individuals and animals are significant because we cannot infer informed consent in either of these cases, and both the making as well as the derivation of enjoyment from their represetnation is a prima facie violation of their human dignity.
      No literary text, (if it does not involve direct calls to physically assault, injure or kill living individuals) no matter how seditious, blasphemous, subversive, provocative or obscene it may be, can meet any criteria that I feel cannot be dealt with in the ordinary course of cultural life and production through acts of criticism and creativity, without recourse to punitive or censorious measures.
      • Sharmishtha PERMALINK
        January 23, 2012 2:55 AM
        This is a very well-written, cogent summary of what the vast majority of us feel about freedom of expression – as long as it does not involve calls to murder and/or the exploitation of minors, no literary text or art should be banned merely because it might be blasphemous.
  3. Yousuf Saeed PERMALINK
    January 21, 2012 8:50 AM
    Why did they invite Rushdie in the first place (and kept saying that their invitation is always open), if they wish to remain within the law? Or is it their corporate (mining) sponsors who are issuing out such press releases?
  4. Shama Zaidi PERMALINK
    January 21, 2012 11:27 AM
    should prints of the offensive paintings of husain have also been displayed alongside the readings just to epater les bourgeois and set the cat amongst the pigeons? makes us all feel so self-righteous all this doesn’t it?
    • January 21, 2012 11:47 AM
      I see no objection to the exhibition of paintings of Husain under any circumstances. None of the paintings are offensive, and even if a work of art is deemed ‘offensive’ by some, I see no harm with it being exhibited. However, this was a literary festival, and while there is no harm in showing visual art at a literary festival, or featuring literary work at a visual arts event, i do not consider it either necessary or mandatory to do so.
  5. January 21, 2012 6:38 PM
    This whole ‘hurting my sentiment’ business seems like a corollary of the clothing-causes-rape argument. Both create a politics around ‘provocation’. Just as ordinary males cannot be relied upon to control themselves in the presence of a skimpily-clad woman (skimpy depending on context could mean say bare arms in ‘cut sleeves’), ordinary devout Muslims/Hindus/Christians/etc. cannot be relied upon to control themselves in the presence of blasphemy. Its all elaborate rubbish, what is really being promoted is violence and ‘lawlessness’ – those who can be called upon to fight, maim, burn, loot, destroy and those who do the calling being the promoters and beneficiaries. Law – with four or eight corners – is some sort of pathetic handmaiden; a jelly-kneed witness to this project to describe its own limits.
  6. Rajesh PERMALINK
    January 22, 2012 7:38 AM
    Is it okay for the sponsors of JLF to be outside the four corners of the law?
    Media statement
    Jaipur : A festival stained by tainted companies
    As the Environment Expert Member of the Plachimada High Power Committee (HPC) that investigated the environmental devastation caused by the Coca Cola Company in the Kerala village of Plachimada, I am shocked to find the Cola company playing the role of a key sponsor at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival.
    While more and more cultural and literary events should take place in India and across the world so that the creed of humanity can be promoted and the sensibility of the society is elevated, it is an ominous threat to the future of the creative writing domain itself that such events are being sponsored by avaricious corporations like the Cola.
    The HPC has found that the Cola company had devastated the local ecology and livelihood of the people in Plachimada village by drying up the aquifer and polluting the soil and waters of the area with deadly cadmium and lead, violating at least eight laws of the land. The damages were estimated to be at a minimum of Rs 2160 million. And the Kerala Legislative Assembly passed a Bill establishing a Tribunal for enabling the victims to seek compensation from the company, which is now waiting for Presidential assent. Shiva Ganga of Tamil Nadu and Mehdiganj of Uthar Pradesh too have been tormented by the Cola giant. And Kala Dera village is not too far from Jaipur.
    It is deplorable that a cultural event is seeking partnership with such a company that was once expelled from the country and is found to be liable to criminal culpability besides providing compensation. And it is a company that instead of showing the sense of remorse has been engaged in an false propaganda campaign against the HPC chaired by an additional chief secretary of Kerala and denounced the Bill passed by the Kerala Assembly. And in Delhi they are deploying all their powers to foil the democratic process of issuing Presidential assent to the Bill by influencing the Home Minister who is still holding the Bill sent to him in March for forwarding to the President.
    Unfortunately, the Cola is not the odd man in the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival. DSC Limited was a principal beneficiary in the Commonwealth Games scam! Rio Tinto is known for human rights violations across the global South, behaving like a colonial government in some small countries.
    This festival is tainted. This literature is impure. It tells of the ethical values of the writers who are participating in it. Even Berthold Brecht might not have imagined the fall of the writers to such a level when he warned uncaring writers of the likelihood of being put on trial by the people in future.
    The context in which Salman Rushdie had to cancel his visit to India is deplorable; this and the context that refused MF Hussain even the opportunity to die in his own country inflict deep injury on our democracy. And if the writers throw away ethical values this wound will deepen dangerously.
    Ecologist, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, biodiversity@rediffmail.com mob 9497012590
  7. Anupama PERMALINK
    January 22, 2012 12:19 PM
    Dear Mr. Sengupta
    I’m totally with you on this, but now want to talk about something else: your comments on pornographic photography. Rape is rape and who would argue with that, but of late I’ve been wondering also about “informed consent” in the case of many adult performers as well (who are not mentally disadvantaged in any way). Linda Lovelace’s autobiography “Ordeal” comes to mind, and her subsequent comments that “Deep Throat” is a photographic record of her being raped: that “basically there was a gun to my head the entire time”. I suspect that this might often be the case in a lot of pornography. I have several pro-pornography friends (oh dear, that sounds like “some of my best friends are…”, but anyway) – but when I ask them, “OK, if it’s so great, would YOU act in a pornographic film”, I’m met with silence or “that isn’t the point”. Somehow I feel that it is indeed the point, if we are to agree with the standard of “non-violation” of “human dignity”. Still, pornography rules, and why shouldn’t it – only I feel that informed consent has little to do with how the films featuring adult performers are actually made. As it is, so many of these films are totally non-erotic displays of violence, aggression and power.
    As for the litfest press releases…yes, it’s set new standards of Doublespeak and cowardice. Kitna yeh log darte hain!
    Anupama Chandra

January 19, 2012

life in general: un-democratic iranian government's wrongful long imprisonment of a human rights lawyer

Iran is far from being a democratic country, notwithstanding any well-deserved contempt United States of America gets for its nefarious designs on Iran.

A few ways of how the oppressive Iranian regime carries out its abuses are through its criminal confinement of human rights lawyers and through its criminal suppression of women in the country. I share below from sources on the interent an example that encompasses both.

An Iranian woman lawyer who has fought for the rights of children and women has been criminally imprisoned since September 2010. Below are two sources which provide more insight on the case.

1)  http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/free-nasrin-sotoudeh-human-rights-defender-iran/ 

Free Nasrin Sotoudeh- Human Rights Defender Iran    Nasrin Sotoudeh is a lawyer, human rights campaigner and women’s rights activist.

Nasrin has defended the rights of many activists who have been arrested, tried unfairly and jailed, including Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Nasrin has spoken publicly about the shortcomings of the Iranian legal system and is famous for defending young offenders on death row. Her activities made her a target, and she was arrested in September 2010.

In January 2011, Nasrin was sentenced to 11 years in prison. In mid-September 2011, the Appeals Court reduced her prison sentence to 6 years and a ban against practising law from 20 years to 10. The charges against her include “acts against national security”, “anti-regime propaganda” and belonging to the Centre for Human Rights Defenders.

For most of the past year, Nasrin Sotoudeh has been in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Three hunger strikes have weakened her health. She took that drastic action to protest her imprisonment, lack of trial and her conditions of detention.

Her detention affects many others. By repressing lawyers like Nasrin and by marginalizing the Iranian Bar Association, the government denies other critics of the government the right to access competent legal representation. One of her own lawyers is currently in detention, too. Nasrin’s husband, Reza Khandan, was pressured with threats and brief imprisonment to make his wife stop her activities. He remains at risk of further harassment and faces a possible trial and imprisonment. They have two children.

She belongs to several organizations including the One Million Signatures Campaign to Change Discriminatory Laws Against Women, and the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child.

Amnesty International considers Nasrin Sotoudeh to be a prisoner of conscience because she is in custody only for peacefully exercising her rights to freedom of expression and association. This includes her professional work as a lawyer.

In the words of Nasrin’s husband, Reza Khandan:

“If any government can block the power of a human rights attorney, its hands are free to treat its critics and opponents in any manner it desires. Unfortunately the international community allowed the government to break this barrier.”

Nasrin Sotoudeh, as you will know, was sentenced on Sunday, 9th January 2011, to 11 years imprisonment.
Reportedly, this includes 5 years for ‘violating the Islamic dress code (Hejab)’ in a filmed acceptance speech, in which she was accepting a Human Rights Prize by the International Committee on Human Rights, in 2008. She was not permitted to leave the country, at the time, to travel to Italy to accept the award.

A further 5 years of the sentence is for ‘acting against the national security of the country’ and 1 year is for ‘propaganda against the regime’.

She has also been banned from practising law and leaving the country for 20 years. It is possible that an appeal against the sentence can be requested within 20 days.

Nasrin’s husband, Reza, was summoned to the Revolutionary Court. In a statement, he said:

“I have been asked to appear at Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court. In the written summons, the word ‘defendant’ was used when referring to me. Of course I was also summoned once about ten to twelve days before my wife was arrested and at the time I was warned about the interviews I had given.”

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran says the ‘UN Human Rights Council Should Act to Address the Crisis.’ The ICHRI also says that Nasrin has ‘reportedly been tortured in prison in order to force her to confess to crimes’.

I would like to draw your attention to important legal points raised recently by renowned Human Rights Lawyer, Mehrangiz Kar, when discussing Ms Sotoudeh’s case:

“Under the concept of a fair trial, the key thing is to have access to lawyers and this is not being practiced. It is routinely being violated.
Article 168 of the Iranian constitution states:
‘All political prisoners are afforded right to a jury trial and must be public’.

When there is not a jury during the trial, that trial is not legal even under the Islamic Republic’s structure. This has been routinely violated since the 2009 elections.”

On December 10, 2011 Nasrin Sotoudeh the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran launched the “Free Sotoudeh Project,” a campaign aimed at building international support for the release of imprisoned human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and highlighting the tragic situation of Iranian prisoners of conscience.

2)   http://www.feministschool.com/english/spip.php?article180 

Thursday 4 December 2008 

Feministschool: Feminist school wanted to organize a ceremony in honour of Nasrin Sotoudeh, after she won the first human rights international prize 2008 in South Tizol (Italy),also we are proud of the fact that Shirin Ebadi who received an award with the Tolerance prize which the ceremony took place in Germany. Sadly the women rights activists were not given permission to proceed with the ceremony , hence we decide to dedicate special page in our site for this event as a result we have placed the speeches of some of the speakers.
about Nasrin Sotoudeh
Nasrin Sotoudeh , lawyer and women rights activist , is a well known lawyer for Iranian women ’s movement whilst its activists are in prison. Nasrin was born in 1963 in Tehran and graduated in International law in beheshti University in 1991 then she started her journalism activities with Daricheye Goftegoo ( the window of dialogue)magazine. also she has written articles for newspapers such as : Jame’eh ,Toos,Sobh e emrouz and Aban . Married in 1994 and now she has two children.
In 1995 Nasrin became an understudy and managed to acquire her Licence to practice Law within 8 years, Nasrin who has taken the cases for a lot of the activists is now awarded with the Human Rights International prize.
She is well known for her activities in human rights for children and in particular against the hanging of children under the age of 18, and women’s movement in particular Campaign of one million signatures Demanding Changes to discrimiatory Laws.
Nasrin Sotoudeh and Mansoureh Shojaee also were summoned to Revolutionary Courts , and appeared in the Revolutionary Courts. They were accused of "endangering national security by having uncommon relationships with Iranians who live overseas". In addition, they were told by "security forces representative" that " we warned you off over the phone and forbade you to go to overseas before you went to airport.
Nasrin Sotoodeh and Mansoureh Shojaee by invitation of some of Iranians women from the south of Larestan and Evaz of Iran who are currently residents in Dubai , were going to go to Dubai to take part in a celebration of 8 March when the officials banned Mansoureh Shojaee from travelling and seized her passport. However, they told Nasrin Sotoodeh that she could travel. But she avoided travelling and told them that she is representing Mansoureh Shojaee and she has to stay with her. They were questioned by security forces for 5 hours in airport.
Nasrin Sotoudeh also was arrested with 8 other activists outside of the Rahe Abrisham Gallery just prior to a small, peaceful assembly planned to commemorate June 12th, the day that has been chosen by Iranian women’s rights activists as their national day of solidarity to object harmful actions which attempt to silence Iranian women.
Some articles in English in special page in Feminist School web site about the ceremony on Nasrin Sotoudeh’s honour :
- All my Clients / Mansoureh Shojaee

Nasrin Sotoudeh’s article in English in Feminist school:

January 17, 2012

life in general: a severe example of nasty custodial torture in india

The last few months has seen a severe example of custodial torture in India. It is about a woman named Soni Sori who is alleged to be a Maoist (a banned outfit in India) by the Indian government. Whether she really is a Maoist is yet to be confirmed but what is reasonably clear is the unwarranted and, in fact, criminal, use of torture afflicted on Soni Sori by the Indian police acting under the instruction of the Indian state.

Below are three write-ups and one video that throw more light on the goings-on in this matter.

1) http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/womens-groups-stopped-from-meeting-soni-sori-in-raipur/



* A team of women representing various women’s groups from across the country were in Raipur on 12-13th January to meet Ms. Soni Sori, currently lodged in Raipur Central Jail. Ms Sori is a tribal school teacher who has been hounded by the Chhattisgarh Police as a Maoist conduit. She was arrested in October 2011 and was brutally assaulted sexually in police custody on the night of 8-9th October.
Even after applying for permission as per procedure and repeated requests to various concerned officials on 12th, the women were denied permission to meet her, despite already having an assurance from the Principal Secretary, Mr. Baijendra Kumar, during his visit to Delhi in October.For two whole days the team was shuttled from one authority to the other and back, with each and every official avoiding taking a decision or give in writing any denial or reasons for it. Finally, permission was denied on 13th citing `security’ concerns. We feel that such alleged `security’ concerns are being used as a smokescreen to prevent us from meeting her, and this constitutes a violation of Soni’s rights as a prisoner. Further, we fail to understand what security threats an all women’s team, following all proper procedures and which consented to meet her in presence of the jail authorities, poses to the jail. Even the State Human Rights Commission, when approached by the team, refused to take cognizance of the matter, stating that denial of access to an undertrial does not constitute any violation of human rights of the undertrial.
The team expresses deep anguish and horror at the brutal physical and sexual torture she was subjected to when in police custody, which included giving her electric shocks, stripping her and inserting foreign objects into private parts. This torture was carried out under the supervision of a senior police official, despite directive from the Delhi High Court to the Chhattisgarh police to ensure her safety. The medical report of Kolkata NRS Medical College and Hospital, where stones were recovered from her private parts, confirms the brutal sexual assault.
We feel that Soni Sori`s case is of national importance and urgency for several reasons. Firstly, such barbaric behaviour by police had been foreseen even before Ms. Sori was taken into custody and had been clearly placed before the Sessions Court and High Court in Delhi, when her custody was sought by the Chhattisgarh police. While such custodial torture is a blatant violation and a matter of concern, *that it can happen despite judicial scrutiny and monitoring is deeply disturbing and of even greater concern.*
Secondly, this is one of the rare cases where the allegations have been substantiated by incontrovertible evidence in the form of an independent medical report conducted under the orders of the Supreme Court. Yet no action has been taken. Despite the seriousness of these violations, the Chhattisgarh authorities have not even instituted an enquiry, let alone taking action against the officials concerned. In addition, it is also preventing any attempts from independent women’s groups to meet with her.
Given the brutal treatment meted out to Soni Sori, and the overall situation of conflict and repression prevailing in Chhattisgarh, we are deeply concerned about the situation of women, in general, and specifically of other women prisoners in Chhattisgarh. Speaking in the larger context efforts to get information by human rights activists about under trails in such areas has unsuccessful. We demand immediate suspension of the officers concerned pending enquiry. Free access of individuals and groups to meet with Soni Sori and her rights as an under trail should be upheld.
The members of the team that visited Raipur consisted members from Saheli, Delhi; Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), Delhi; WSS Orissa and Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, Bhopal.

2)   http://www.sacw.net/article2445.html
9 December 2011
Soni Sori Case : our freedoms are at risk because people’s concerns receive a short shrift at the hands of the judiciary

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights is distressed at the hiatus between the sharp observations of the Supreme Court judges and their timid operative orders and judgments. If there was any doubt over this it has been laid to rest by the recent orders of the apex court hearing the case of Soni Sori and the clarification offered by a bench of the Supreme Court in the much touted judgment on the issue of SPOs.
After her arrest in Delhi, Soni Sori had pleaded before three judges of the Saket District Court when her transit remand was being heard, that were she to be handed over to the Chhattisgarh police, she would definitely be tortured. Indeed she had pointed to the judge at the Saket district court that one member of the police team which had come to take her in their remand and escort her to Chhattisgarh had tortured her on a previous occasion. Her pleas fell on deaf ears.
When her complaint of torture including sexual violence inflicted on her was submitted before the Supreme Court, the judges chose not to intervene. And now when the medical check-up ordered by the court by a Kolkata hospital has established that stones were recovered from her private parts, the veracity of her charge stands corroborated. Instead of taking cognition of this and immediately moving her to safety of a jail outside Chhattisgarh, the apex court on 2nd December 2011 gave the state authorities 45 days to respond to the medical report and meanwhile merely shifted her to Raipur jail from Jagdalpur jail in the same state.
Thus the very same delinquent police force, its personnel and associated authorities have got permission to incarcerate her for an inordinately long period, a period sufficient for the state government to threaten, brow-beat and destroy Soni Sori before its prepares its response. It appears that custodial rape and torture of a woman, adivasi at that, does not enjoy any premium as there is greater concern for the prestige of the state authorities engaged in the valiant game of prosecuting a war against its own people in the tribal belt of India. The order of the Supreme Court has also risked Soni Sori’s safety further by shifting her to Raipur jail as her travel to the Dantewada court now entails a journey of 22 hours. It threatens her already frail health, puts her in prolonged police custody during transit and provides the government an easy alibi to deny her access to the court altogether.
In the SPO case the apex court bench watered down, if not trivialized, its original order issued on 5 July 2011 which had directed the Central government to desist from providing any funds for supporting directly or indirectly recruitment of SPOs and engaging them in counter-insurgency activities and had declared that the appointment of SPOs as part of regular police as unconstitutional. Thus the deployment of SPOs anywhere including in J&K, North East, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal became illegal. By agreeing to remove reference to central government and by confining the judgment to Chhattisgarh alone and by maintaining scrupulous silence over how the Chhattisgarh state got around the restriction by raising a new force, the Supreme Court restored everything it had declared to be unconstitutional and thereby trivialised its own judgment and observations.
The only rationale for the issuing of such orders is that once ‘national security’ is invoked, the Courts, even the apex Court, fall in line behind the Executive. The most recent order on the deployment of SPOs and that regarding Soni Sori’s custodial torture show the Supreme Court in poor light and even more regrettably show it to be sacrificing people’s fundamental rights at the altar of “national security”.
For those of us who perceive the judiciary, at least its higher levels, as a protector of people’s interests there is salutary message: our freedoms are at risk because people’s concerns receive a short shrift at the hands of the judiciary as and when the executive invokes national security. Thus, radical observations and timid, if not trivial, operative orders must be condemned.
Harish Dhawan, Paramjeet Singh

3) http://www.binayaksen.net/2011/10/soni-sori-to-sc-sp-gave-electric-shocks-undressed-and-tortured-me/

  Despite a Delhi High Court directive to the Chhattisgarh police to ensure  the   safety of the jailed adivasi teacher who had apprehended custodial torture, Soni Sori has alleged that in clear violation of the Court’s order, the Dantewada SP gave her electric shocks, underdressed her and tortured her on the night of October 8. In a letter addressed to the Supreme Court, and received by a social activist in Delhi today, Sori has described the torture to which she was subjected by the Superintendent of Police, Ankit Garg, and has demanded to know who is responsible for her condition.
On the night of 8.10.2011, from 12 midnight to 2:30 am, SP Ankit Garg called me into a room in the police station, gave me electric shocks (current shock), took my clothes off and severely tortured me. Why has no action been taken against him? Sori has asked in the letter in Hindi, a scanned copy of which is attached herewith. Sori, whose case is currently being heard in Delhi, has written this letter on a small scrap of paper and asks the apex court five incisive questions.
Describing herself as a suffering adivasi women who is also a daughter and sister of this country, she asks the Court to tell her who is responsible for the brutal custodial torture to which she has been subjected by the police in Chhattisgarh. It may be recalled that Soni Sori had apprehended this physical torture when she was picked up by the police in Delhi, and had moved the Sessions court and the High Court in Delhi to oppose her remand to the custody of Chhattisgarh police. Keeping her fears in mind, the Saket Court in Delhi had awarded her custody to the Chhattisgarh police only upon receiving their assurance of her safety. The Delhi High Court also asked the Chhattisgarh police to submit a report listing out steps to ensure Soni’s safety.
However, as Soni points out in this recent letter, despite these safeguards and the assurance given to her by the Saket Court, she was tortured brutally, both mentally and physically, by the Chhattisgarh police. Why did the police do this to me, why was this allowed to happen? Soni asks the Supreme Court in this letter. Describing her police harassment over the past year and a half, she writes about how the police kept showing her as an absconder in half a dozen cases, even though she was meeting with them, going to the police station and regularly attending her job as an ashram school teacher, as evidenced by the entries of the school attendance register. Why did the police not arrest me at that time? asks Soni in this letter. Referring to the most recent case, in which the police alleges that Soni has acted as an intermediary between Essar and the Naxalites, she claims that she was asked by a police constable Mankar to flee from the place, which has made her into a criminal.
In the letter, Soni asks the apex court why no action has been taken against the erring police constable. Soni also refers to the fact that she was kept chained to her hospital bed when she was undergoing treatment for her injuries due to custodial torture in the Raipur hospital,which is explicitly prohibited under Supreme Court orders. At the end of the short letter which lists these five questions, Soni plaintively asks the court, Who is responsible for my condition? The Chhattisgarh government or the police administration? Soni affirms in the letter that she is still on hunger strike since she has still not obtained justice. Social activist Himanshu Kumar says that this letter will be delivered to the Supreme Court once it reopens on Monday and notes,These questions which Soni is raising are important not only for her, but for all of us in this country. We must be prepared to face these questions and ensure that our democracy is strong enough to answer them.
For more information contact: Himanshu Kumar ph: 9013886571 email: vcadantewada@ gmail.com
Letter for the Supreme Court
1. Why are my feet chained?
2. Mankar constable is the culprit in the Essar case. He made me into a criminal by asking me to abscond. Why is there no action taken against him on this?
3. For a year and a half, the police have been harassing me by lodging false cases against me. I used to openly come and go in front of the police force. I was called at the police station many times, and I used to go there. Why did they not arrest me at that time? For no reason, they declared me as an absconder, even though I was regularly doing my service at the ashram school at that time.
4. I was brought here from the Saket Court in Delhi by promising that there would be no physical or mental torture, and I believed this to be the order of the court and came here. Then why did the police do this to me (torture me), why was this allowed to happen?
5. On the night of 8.10.2011, from 12 midnight to 2:30 am, SP Ankit Garg called me into a room in the police station, gave me electric shocks (current shock), took my clothes off and severely tortured me. Why has no action been taken against him? Today, who bears the responsibility for my condition? The government of Chhattisgarh or the police administration? I am a suffering adivasi woman and I want to the Supreme Court to answer my question. I am also a daughter and sister of this country. Why did this happen to me? This is why I have not yet broken my hunger strike.
Applicant Mrs. Soni Sori Central Jail, Jagdalpur

4) Video

January 04, 2012

life in general: anti-corruption lokpal bill logjam in indian parliament

I came across  a good insight of some of the issues surrounding the logjam the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill finds itself in Indian Parliament currently. I share below the entire write-up that provided the insight.


Team Anna’s selective indignation

The year 2012 will be the year of the Lokpal and a slew of other legislations to combat corruption. Politicos may not want it. But they’re destined to have it.

I say this because I am not a cynic. Yet, the fight against graft wouldn’t succeed the way people want without the civil society being a little more flexible and the political class a lot more accommodative. There are limits to adversity; cooperation without standing on prestige could be boundless.

Much has been made of the Rajya Sabha logjam over the Lokpal Bill. Critics including those on Anna’s team would have one believe that all’s lost. But that isn’t true. The Bill continues to be the property of the House and the debate on it is inclusive. The government has no option but to have the unfinished business transacted when the Council of States reassembles for the Budget Session starting February.

I found for this reason a longish article Prashant Bhushan wrote in The Hindu on Monday a trifle short on facts and objective inferences. The activist-lawyer wrote the Rajya Sabha was prorogued on December 29 while it actually was adjourned sine die by Chairman Hamid Ansari.

The point needs to be clarified for an informed public discourse. Presidential summons are needed to convene a prorogued House. The Chairman can bring it into session if it’s adjourned sine die.

Like Bhushan, many in the Opposition have been critical of what transpired that night. But a vote in the House where the Government stood hugely outnumbered would have endorsed the Opposition’s truncated version of the law.

Would Anna’s advisors have been okay with a law that set up a Lokpal at the Centre but struck down the chapter relating to State Lokayuktas?

Prashant’s silence on this is a puzzle because Mamata Banerjee’s revolt was against what anti-graft campaigners are seeking — ombudsmen in provinces vide a central legislation under Article 253 of the Constitution.

I’ve heard Kiran Bedi say umpteen times in TV debates that the government was duty bound to follow the route as a signatory to the UN convention against corruption. Why then are civil society leaders not talking about this major flaw in the Bill the Upper House could have passed and sent for reconsideration to the Lok Sabha that earlier voted for a different version.

That the amended Bill would also have found favor in the Lower House was obvious from the BSP-SP-TMC lineup witnessed in the Rajya Sabha along with the Left and the BJP.

The government’s version passed in the first instance in the Lok Sabha was essentially on account of the TMC voting in support and the BSP-SP abstaining. That wouldn’t have happened in the repeat vote. Parties would have stuck to the Rajya Sabha pattern to defeat the government.

The result: a draconian Lokpal at the Centre and no Lokayuktas in States where they don’t exit and timid copies where they do. It was a trap the Opposition laid for the UPA and the civil society while swearing by federalism and pretending to back a strong Lokpal.

It’s this contradiction that leaves one wonderstruck by Bhushan’s silence on the issue and his partisan dissection of the December 29 events. Democracy wasn’t murdered in the House that night. It was mob-lynched by parties paying lip-sympathy to Team Anna.

One presumes the good lawyer and the doughty ex-cop are aware also of the amendment— carried earlier in the Lok Sabha at the Opposition’s bidding— exempting presiding officers’ (Speaker and Chairman) from reporting to the Lokpal on action-taken against MPs’ probed for their conduct outside the House. About time Team Anna did some plain speak on these points.

Posted by Vinod Sharma on Monday, January 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm